Magazine article African Business

Discovering the Bounty of Camels

Magazine article African Business

Discovering the Bounty of Camels

Article excerpt

Kenya, better known for its fabulous wildlife, is also home to one of the largest populations of camels in the world. Among its host of wondrous uses, the camel also produces large quantities of milk for which there is a ready market globally. Solomon Mburu decribes how Kenya is now taking the camel very seriously as an economic asset.

With the fifth-largest camel population in the world, Kenya is seeking to make a mark in the $10bn global camel milk market as it looks for ways of utilising its vast desert areas. Kenya has over three million camels, 20% of which are lactating females, potentially producing more than 340m litres of milk annually.

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Camels can produce up to six litres of milk daily, fetching double the price of cow's milk. The new trend follows growth in the world's demand for organic health foods that has seen camel milk move from the preserve of nomadic pastoral communities to a recognised health drink. Camel milk has anti-bacterial components that suppress disease-causing bacteria and pathogens, making it a recommended drink for diabetics. It is believed to offer a preventive cushion against peptic ulcers. It also provides an alternative for those allergic to cows' milk and is three times richer in Vitamin C. It is also rich in iron, non-saturated fatty acids and Vitamin B.

Support for herders

Since 1958, the dairy policy in Kenya has only recognised cows' milk. But with recent policy changes, milk from camels is now seen as commercially viable. Camel husbandry is consequently being revolutionised and camel raising is increasingly becoming attractive and economically viable in areas where other animals cannot survive.

The Kenya Dairy Board has been leading efforts to train and sensitise pastoral communities on how to improve camel milk production in areas like Garissa, Ijara and Tana River, in the country's arid north. …

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